Danielson Framework: The Evaluation Problem by Dr. Jason Hilton


Danielson Framework: The Evaluation Problem

As the Danielson Framework continues to serve as a model for teaching evaluations across the country, great teachers are involved in an interesting conversation. Most seem to agree that one of the benefits of the Danielson Framework as a model for evaluation is that it does a good job of making the evaluation process more clear and explicit. However, complaints arise within discussions of how the actual score is determined. How is it that the Danielson Framework can be at once applauded for clarity and critiqued for the score it generates? It all comes down to a fundamental aspect of what it means to be a teacher.

Teachers spend their days, weeks, months and years shaping the minds of our young ones. This work requires substantial personal involvement, I would argue more than almost any other profession. A major part of the teaching process is challenging, pushing, inspiring, prodding, and even cajoling students into striving to do their very best. Great teachers believe that the A grade is attainable by every student who walks through the door. But here comes the rub…

In the Danielson Framework, teachers are expected to be satisfied with scores in the “proficient” category rather than in the “distinguished” category. It may be easy to tell teachers that those categories do not correspond to letter grades, but saying this to teachers is not enough to make it true. It goes against a foundational educational belief held by most teachers, that if you put in the time and effort, you will earn the top grades. This mismatch in a world views creates a cognitive disconnect that is not easy to reconcile and the penalties for our students could be harsh. Imagine if teachers actually accept the notion the proficient is enough, and then tell their students that proficient is all they should strive for? Or alternatively, what if teachers continue to reject this notion and as a consequence reject what is otherwise a rather well conceived manner of teaching evaluation? In either case, I struggle to see how this improves education.

I propose a third course of action. Teachers who meet the requirements of distinguished should earn the top grades. Distinguished shouldn’t be seen as a place teachers can “only visit,” instead distinguished is the neighborhood they should all strive to and eventually live in. Can a teacher be distinguished in every category? Yes. Can a team of teachers be distinguished? YES. Can a building or a district full of teachers all be distinguished? YES!!!

Let’s believe in our great teachers the way our great teachers believe in our children.?


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